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What Careers Can You Get with a Doctorate in Education?

June 22, 2019

Teachers who have master’s degrees may be intrigued by the idea of returning to school to pursue new careers with a doctorate in education, or EdD. Doing so could allow them to pursue a career in administration, education policy, school law, curriculum development, or other specializations within the field. In addition, they could seek employment at a postsecondary institution or a nonprofit.

Six Possible Careers With a Doctorate in Education

As a doctor of education, jobs that impact a variety of sectors become available to you. An advanced degree in education can open many doors—this article will explore six potential career paths for those who choose to earn their doctorate in education.

Become a Postsecondary Teacher

A teacher who has spent significant time in the classroom may decide to pursue a path of mentorship as a postsecondary teacher. These educators instruct at the college and university level, teaching potential future teachers. They help undergraduate and graduate students prepare for the next phase of their careers through instruction and mentorship, teach on advanced topics, and often conduct and publish academic research. They may work at community colleges, four-year universities, or graduate schools.

The job market for postsecondary educators is growing rapidly. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the U.S. economy to add 200,000 postsecondary teaching jobs between 2016 and 2026—a 15 percent increase, which is double the national job market average growth projection. The pay range for postsecondary educators varies. While those earning salaries in the bottom 10 percent earn less than $40,000, those with salaries in the top 10 percent make closer to $200,000. Earning a doctorate of education from American University’s School of Education will help graduates compete for higher-paying positions in sought-after settings nationwide. It is important to note that experience and geographic setting also play a role in pay; junior college professors earn a median of $56,930, while those at state universities earn a median of $81,120.

A career in postsecondary education offers a rewarding opportunity to impact the future of teaching. The most successful professors approach their work by leveraging a few valuable skill sets. Primarily, these educators are strong goal setters who understand both their own goals and the overall goals of their students. In addition, they act as leaders in their field, guiding future educators to think independently and creatively. Given their background, they are also skilled curriculum developers, able to convey information in a manner that works for various learning styles. Finally, postsecondary educators are skilled communicators, able to coordinate with their department and their students.

Find Employment as an Instructional Coordinator

Teachers who wish to impact classroom curriculum and teaching standards can pursue a career as an instructional coordinator. About 165,000 instructional coordinators work at all levels of education within the U.S., from elementary schools to postsecondary institutions. In their day-to-day jobs, they help schools determine how to best design their curriculum to fit state and national standards while also addressing student learning styles. They seek to make classroom learning relevant and interesting, in order to maximize students’ potential for success.

Between 2016 and 2026, the BLS predicts the job market for instructional coordinators will grow 11 percent, several percentage points above the national average growth rate for all jobs. Though these strategy-minded professionals can earn anywhere from below $36,000 to above $100,000, the median salary is $64,450. The highest-paying instructional coordinator positions, on average, are in the government sector, where the median salary is $76,970.

Success as an instructional coordinator begins with strong curriculum development skills. This requires a deep understanding of the content itself, as well as the ways to deliver it and achieve maximum results. Additionally, instructional coordinators should be savvy managers who can coordinate with a team of teachers and align content throughout grade levels and subject areas. This requires a certain amount of creativity and communication, since different departments often work in silos. A strong instructional coordinator will break down these barriers and help foster a truly interdisciplinary learning environment.

Start Your Career as a Training and Development Manager

Training and development managers help their institutions standardize and implement professional development. They serve as educators within large businesses and organizations, with the job market split between opportunities in professional and technical services (15 percent), business management (15 percent), education (11 percent), finance (11 percent), and healthcare (9 percent).

As of 2016, there were 35,000 training and development manager positions in the U.S. The BLS estimates 3,600 more positions will be available by 2026. The median salary for this career is $111,000, although that amount may vary based on education level, experience, geographic area, industry, and employer.

The most successful training and development managers are strong communicators, as they must interact with a variety of different departments and stakeholders. They leverage their ability to break down and teach complex topics in creative, innovative ways. This comes from a strong curriculum development background, as well as ample practice delivering curriculum to a variety of audiences. As training and development managers can work with a wide array of businesses, a certain amount of flexibility and resourcefulness is necessary.

Become a School Principal

Teachers who want to create a greater impact on a larger number of students’ lives may consider a career as a school principal. Most elementary, middle, and high school principals need, at minimum, a master’s degree. Earning an EdD can make you a stronger candidate. School principals are responsible for running the day-to-day operations at their school, and it is important that they are detail-oriented and can see the big picture. The best school principals are an essential part of their school’s community, and they strive to always improve the learning environment and never grow complacent.

School principals make a median salary of $95,000 per year, though this salary varies based on education level, experience, state, and district. The BLS expects the job market for principals to grow 8 percent by 2026, just above the national average, with a quarter of a million positions currently available.

Because a principal is integral to all aspects of a school’s activities, it’s crucial that those in the role are strong leaders and able to collaborate well with others. Principals often coordinate with teachers, staff members, parents, administrators, students, and the community at large. Because of this, they must be comfortable communicators, speaking to each group’s needs while always considering what is in the best interest of students. In addition, principals often work within the parameters set by the school board or state guidelines, which means they must be resourceful to make progress.

Advance to Become a School Dean

Though there are positions for school deans in elementary and secondary education, the vast majority of them—around 95 percent—work as postsecondary education administrators. Deans act as the authority over various departments or colleges within a university. For example, the dean of students works directly with departments responsible for student affairs, such as admissions, housing, and graduation. Often, associate deans may operate under the supervision of a school or department dean. The range of job duties deans take on can vary widely. For instance, a dean of admissions is responsible for managing student applications, while the dean of a particular college is responsible for academic and research efforts.

The BLS reports that the 2018 median salary for postsecondary education administrators, such as school deans, is $94,340. While that salary represents colleges, universities, and professional schools in both the public and private sectors, the median salary for deans of community colleges is $90,440 a year. As of 2016, there were 180,100 positions; the BLS predicts that schools will open 18,200 new jobs by 2026, signifying a 10 percent growth rate.

Communication is key for those taking on the role of dean. Deans are responsible for managing many different departments and tasks, and it’s their job to ensure the processes run smoothly. This also calls for the ability to lead with an eye to departmental goals and objectives, as well as an awareness of the needs of each department. These administrators often find themselves managing a number of individuals, and they should feel comfortable doing so.

Aim for a Nonprofit Leadership Position

Some professionals with an EdD may wish to pursue a career with a nonprofit organization. Nonprofits serve and educate the public, make a difference in people’s lives, and offer volunteer opportunities for concerned citizens. Many nonprofit organizations contain an educational component and seek leaders to run these programs. Often, a nonprofit will appoint a director of education to fill this role. They oversee education departments at museums, cultural centers, and similar venues. These professionals play a role in creating and disseminating educational information to the public in a variety of forms.

Glassdoor reports that the average salary for a director of education is $73,640 per year, with the lowest earners making $44,000 per year and the highest earners $116,000 per year. Those with an EdD can expect to earn closer to the top of this pay range, though other factors, such as organization type and geographic location, come into play. The employment growth rate overall at nonprofits has remained strong, increasing each year from 2007 to 2012, according to the BLS—even in the midst of an economic recession. In that time, the number of nonprofit organizations also increased by 15 percent.

Managing the education department of a nonprofit often requires strong leadership skills. Those who work for a nonprofit can be called on to wear many hats, and they rely on a number of different employees and volunteers. This not only means that an education director must set a strong example but also that they should be comfortable collaborating with others and communicating. Additionally, many nonprofit organizations have limited resources. This means that creativity and resourcefulness are necessary when developing and presenting education programs.

Learn More About Doctor of Education Jobs

EdD graduates are well positioned to make an impact on the field of education in a variety of ways. Whether they are remaining within formal education environments—as principals, postsecondary educators, or instructional designers—or looking at other avenues, such as professional development or nonprofits, their experience and advanced approach to education make them invaluable. A program like American University’s Doctorate in Education will help equip students and graduates with the knowledge and training they need to make sustained change as they pursue meaningful careers.